More Than 1,000 Civilians Flee Armed Conflict in Northern Shan State

Community-based groups are providing assistance to IDPs—whose numbers are growing as clashes continue.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

More than 1,000 people have been internally displaced in northern Shan State’s Namtu Township as clashes flare between ethnic armed groups, locals said.

Joint forces belonging to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) have been fighting the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) over the last week. The battles have caused locals from four Namtu villages to flee the area, according to Ko Myo, who works with the assistance group Volunteers Without Borders in nearby Hsipaw.

“Battles broke out near Pangkai village this morning,” he said on Tuesday. “Fifteen IDPs [internally displaced people] from Pangkai arrived here. Some volunteers are going to pick up the IDPs. Currently, there are over 300 people staying in Bodaw monastery in Hsipaw Township and over 1,000 IDPs in Manli village in Namtu Township,” Ko Myo said.

According to locals, battles were ongoing as of Tuesday, and began in late August. Mortar shells have reportedly landed near Panglon village in Namtu, and two civilians were allegedly shot on Saturday.

Representatives from the Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO) told NMG that the clashes do not appear to be subsiding and that the number of IDPs—which they calculate as 1,070—is expected to grow. Aid is currently being provided by volunteer groups and women’s organizations in Namtu, and in Hsipaw, by the township’s general administration department, along with Shan culture groups. The IDPs—particularly those in monasteries—are still in need of food support.

“We are also worried about volunteer groups no longer being able to help because they have repeatedly helped IDPs so many times,” said TWO’s Lway Wineim Par. “People have suffered a lot because they cannot work on their farms. They have had to flee from battles many times. The current IDPs just returned to their homes on August 21, then they had to flee from battles again,” she explained.

NMG tried to contact spokespeople from the respective armed forces, but could not reach them at the time of reporting.